THREE new avian influenza infections in British birds over the Christmas period take the total number of outbreaks to 18 – double the confirmed cases in the winter of 2016/2017.

Brefpa chief executive Robert Gooch said the comparison “emphasises that this is the worst avian influenza epidemic of recent times”, and urged poultry farmers to maintain high levels of biosecurity.

See also: Poultry farmers warned over foot dips and cold weather

Cases have continued to rise in northwestern Europe, as well, with countries on the coast of the continent particularly badly affected.

On 28 December Defra confirmed two cases close to Watton, in Norfolk, one in captive birds and another on a duck rearing operation.

And on 29 December, H5N8 was also found in backyard poultry near Exmouth, Devon.

Housing order

According to the Eastern Daily Press, the Norfolk duck rearer outbreak was at a farm operated by Gressingham Foods supplier Green Label Poultry. 

There is currently a housing order in place across Great Britain to limit the contact between captive birds and poultry and wild birds that may be carrying avian influenza.

And an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared, making high standards of biosecurity a legal requirement.